London’s Most Famous Landmark Gets A New Name

London, Big Ben
Pop Quiz: what’s this called?

Undoubtedly, 99% of people will immediately answer, “Big Ben.” Actually, only the clock’s bell is called Big Ben. The tower as a whole is called Clock Tower. Everybody knows this iconic sight in London but nearly everyone misidentifies it.

Now the name is getting changed. In honor of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee, the UK government has decided to honor her 60 years on the throne by renaming the tower Elizabeth Tower.

While this is a nice sentiment, they should have probably picked some other landmark. Everyone is still going to call it Big Ben. The clock itself will keep its name, and everyone calls the tower by the clock’s name.

Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower is not open to the public, but you can get nice photos of it from several spots. Two good ones are about two-thirds of the way across Westminster Bridge, and from the little unsigned park just across the street from Victoria Tower Gardens, just to the south of the Houses of Parliament.

[Photo courtesy Vicky Brock]

60 Years Of Royal Travel: Queen Elizabeth II’s State Visits

royal travel - Queen Elizabeth II Perth AirportThis week, the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, commemorating 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II on the royal throne. The Times has an interactive, multimedia infographic detailing six decades of royal travel. Each decade details her Commonwealth and international trips with video and photographs from some of her most important visits. The 1970s-’90s mark her most prolific time as a traveler, with over 60 countries visited in those three decades. She slowed down a bit in the past few years, with just four foreign countries (plus Canada and Australia, members of the Commonwealth) visited since 2010 – but still pretty impressive for a senior citizen. Since her coronation in 1952, she’s visited an impressive 161 countries and spent a total of 3.5 years abroad.

[Photo courtesy The British Monarchy on Flickr, copyright Press Association]

Queens To Meet In London For Big Event

Buckingham Palance big eventThis June 5 is a big event in the UK as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne. Cunard Line will bring Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations to a close with the first ever Cunard Royal Rendezvous in the fleet’s home port of Southampton, England.

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will be brought within close proximity of each other as a fireworks and special effects display will light up the evening sky. Queen Mary 2 will then lead Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria in single file down the Solent, a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, as all three ships set out on their celebratory Jubilee voyages.

This is not the first time the three Queens of the Cunard fleet have met. In 2011 they met in New York City, but the first meeting of the three queens was in 2008.

“In January 2008, Cunard Line’s first Rendezvous of their three Queens took place. It was quite exciting as it was the first time Cunard had three ships with Queen in the name and all three were together,” said Stewart Chiron CEO of CruiseGuy.com. “It was the last time for many to see Queen Elizabeth 2, as she would depart the fleet later that year.”

Enrichment programming on board the ships will feature lectures by former BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond; Professor Herbert Kerrigan QC, one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II‘s Counsel in Scotland; and ITN royal commentator Robert Jobson.

Also on board will be a rare collection of Royal art, including watercolors by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and lithographs by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Guests sailing on board Cunard ships will enjoy a Commemorative Dinner followed by a Grand Ball. Cunard will also screen live BBC World News coverage of the celebrations across the fleet beginning at 9:00 a.m. (GMT).



[Flickr photo by micamica]